Movies vs. Real Life: The College Application Process

The simplifications in some movies regarding college admissions must be addressed in order to prevent inaccurate comparisons to reality.

Camryn Gray, Arts and Entertainment Editor

The 2022-23 college application season is reaching its first milestone today, as early decision deadlines loom large, and many NASH seniors are dealing with varying degrees of nervousness. In fact, they may not have expected just how time-consuming and stressful the process actually is.

Through movies and television shows, the media has often portrayed the college application process as a relatively simple process, making it seem possible to get into an Ivy League college with a fraction of the credentials that are needed in reality.

Legally Blonde, a popular 90s movie about breaking stereotypes, centers on the college admission process. At the start of the movie, Elle Woods, a spoiled rich girl, attends UCLA (University of California Los Angeles) with a major in Fashion Merchandising. Although UCLA is a strong school, she decides to transfer to Harvard Law School to follow her dreams of winning back her ex-boyfriend, Warner. Such a drastic change in major and school is not exactly unrealistic, due to how many students make such a change in their actual college careers. The unrealistic part of this movie is getting into Harvard Law by sending a video application where the applicant is in a pink bathing suit. Nevertheless, the film is a great comedy and a great example of proving people wrong by becoming successful.

The hit Marvel movie Spiderman: No Way Home features the process of applying to college in a different way. Peter Parker and his friends all have dreams of going to MIT before the scandal breaks that Spiderman (Peter Parker) killed Mysterio. The group is rejected in light of this revelation, causing Peter to want to take action to at least get his friends in. His friends are given a second chance to get in after Peter saves the MIT administrator’s life. Unfortunately, Peter is unable to enroll in MIT due to a spell cast by Doctor Strange, leading to everyone forgetting who he is. 

Great movie, but entirely a fantasy.

Of course, second chances do exist in the college application process. It is possible to get rejected from a school before getting accepted later as a transfer student. However, these second chances are usually not given by saving the life of an administrator who is about to fall off a bridge due to the immense powers of Doc Ock. 

The movie was filmed in 2021 (not exactly the distant past), but the characters get rejected via letter. In actuality, most colleges release their decisions online. 

The Kissing Booth is another modern movie that features the college application process, but the film does so more accurately. The character Noah Flynn earns a coveted spot at Harvard University. He’s far from a perfect student, but his athletic skill allows him to attend the prestigious school, which is uncommon but not especially unrealistic.

NASH students may be watching these and other movies that show the college application process, but it is important to remember that most films are not entirely accurate. If nothing else, students can laugh at these movies as they learn the truth behind college admissions firsthand.